More and more people are switching to organic food these days to get rid of chemicals from their diet. With organic cultivation growing rapidly, people are taking advantage of this new kind of farming to improve their lifestyle. One of the recent accomplishments, however, is Sikkim becoming a complete organic state. Despite being a totally landlocked state, it has achieved something many other developed states are struggling to. With a population of around six lakhs, it is a great feat for the state and a step in the right direction for the entire country. Although Sikkim gained this status in December 2015, it was officially announced in a conference by the Prime Minister Sri Narendra Modi himself, during his visit to the state on January 18, 2016. According to him, focus would be put on organic plant growth and farming and also on sustainable development and ecotourism.
For any state to achieve something as major as this, it takes a lot of time and effort. The journey began about 13 years ago, when the then Chief Minister of Sikkim, Pawan Kumar Chamling, made an announcement shunning the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. He said that farmers would be switching over to natural fertilizers and organic plant growth promoter in India. The state does not have a proper commercial airport or railway system but despite the shortcomings, Sikkim has taken a good step with this development.
One of the major hurdles in this case was the geography of the state. Strewn with rocky terraneous mountains and the weather being harsh and unpredictable at times, shifting the nature of farming could be catastrophic for the state and for the farmers. Added to that was the sprawling 77,000 hectares of land which, however, had scattered land holdings.
The initial step taken by the government was to reduce subsidies on chemical fertilizers. Going forward, their use was completely banned.
Creating awareness about organic seeds and organic fertilizers in India was also important at that stage. With greater awareness, people started to cut down on chemicals and start using natural products like bio compost organic fertilizer.
The government was actively involved in the transformation and supported the farmers throughout the change, providing them with resources and necessary equipments. Creating bio fertilizer production units, soil testing labs, cold storage labs, etc. have aided the farmers in bringing about the change.
The shift from chemical fertilizers to organic farming has proven to be extremely helpful for the people of the state, especially the farmers. By spending a measly amount of 55 crores, the government of Sikkim has been able to bring about a drastic change in the lives of farmers in the state. After this shift, Sikkim now produces more agricultural products than ever and the demand for organic food crops has soared in the state. Moreover, the income of farmers has increased by about 20% through greater jobs and increased sales. There has also been a meteoric rise in the number of entrepreneurs in the state, every one getting thoroughly involved in organic farming and bringing new innovations to the table.
Moving forward, it has created an additional responsibility on the people and the government to build on this natural process by tackling logistics and supply. People also need to figure out better ways to process food and manage perishable goods.
An Inspiration for Others
This achievement has placed the state of Sikkim at par with other international organic states like California and Wisconsin. Following in the footsteps of Sikkim, several other Indian states have already started shifting to natural means of farming, with Kerala, Mizoram and Arunachal Pradesh leading the pack. It shall not be very long when a vast majority of the country will be carrying out organic farming on a large scale.